On this page, you will find different examples of Ali signed items such as pamphlets, cards, etc., along with some other general collecting guides.
Ali wanted to spread the word of Islam, to do this he carried Islamic leaflets with him everywhere he went and handed them out, he even added them to TTM requests. They were signed by Ali, guaranteeing that they would not just be tossed to the side. As you can tell, this worked, as there are thousands of them still in collector's hands. In fact they are a great entry level (and affordable) autograph into the world of collecting Ali. There were even a couple pamphlets with Ali's picture on them, these usually demand a slight premium. Here are some examples of the different Islamic pamphlets that Ali handed out.
Ali gave a huge amount of speeches over the years and for these events, he made notes. You can find some of these speech notes on lined paper and others on large index cards. The notes are usually not signed but I have seen a note where he makes a reference to himself, thereby creating a signature on the card. At times, these notes can be found for a reasonable price as they are not signed. If you want an assortment of Ali writing and don't mind not having the autograph, this is an item for you. Alternatively, if you already own an Ali signature and want more writing from the champ, this would be a great addition to your collection.
Signed boxing gloves are probably the number one item sought for by collectors. For a lot of fans and collectors, gloves are considered the 'holy grail'. Gloves display great and there are more than just a flat item, it is in fact one of the few things a boxer has on in the ring and the tool of his craft. Gloves are usually priced much higher than a standard photo more care need to be taken when purchasing and beyond.
What should be taken into consideration?
Writing implement that was used on the glove - A sharpie style marker is the most common, followed by a paint marker. Standard markers can bleed or fade over time due to the nature of the material of the glove. A paint pen doesn't have this issue but it could have chipping.
How is the glove going to be displayed? - The signature could be affected by lighting and other environmental factors. Is a case going to be used? Is the case UV protected? Fading will take place over time; it would be a tragedy to one day notice that the signature has all but vanished.
Placement and size of the signature - Just like a signed baseball, there is a sweet spot on a boxing glove. It is the centered signature, perfect for display. Some Ali gloves can be signed small and way off center. These gloved are great for someone who wants an Ali glove, but not great for display purposes.
Right or left? - It sounds like a silly thing; who cares? But it could make all the difference because of how it was signed. Most gloves will be displayed horizontally with the thumb on the top. But what if the glove was signed from the opposite side? This would make the signature upside-down if displayed in this manor.
Keep these things in mind and you'll find the glove you've always wanted. Deals can be had on signatures with the flaws stated above such as fading, bleeding, placement, size, etc., if you don't mind them.
Ideal example of a marker signed glove
Sparring glove signed small and off center
Marker has bled, making the signature blurry
Signed with silver paint pen
Glove presents well despite being considered upside-down
Personalized and dated, no bleeding
Through The Mail 3x5 Photo
The TTM 3x5 is a photo card that actually measures 3.5 x 5.5 and was released by Tamkin Color, a company that handled fan mail. On the front it shows a portrait photograph of a smiling Ali dressed all in black taken by Howard Bingham, and on the back it has a thank you message from Ali. A somewhat rarer version of the photo has no message on the back, just photo credits.
If you wrote to Ali asking for an autograph in the late 90’s forward, chances are that you received this photo with an autopenned signature. It's for this reason some collectors refer to the card as the ‘autopen photo’, but there are many of these 3x5’s in existence with a genuine signature. Even while most who asked received the standard autopen, Ali would still sign a small amount of photos himself, and send them to a lucky few.
The authentic signatures on these pictures can be found signed in black or blue sharpie, silver paint pen, and even ball point pen. The signature is usually found on the front of the photo, but I have seen some signed on the back of the card under the message. Since the autographs are from the late 90’s into the 2000's, due to Ali’s declining health they can vary in quality and size.
In general, these are great items for any collector but especially beginners as these photos usually cost less than larger images.
1992 Classic World Class Athletes
In 1992, Classic, a subsidiary of Score Board released the World Class Athletes trading card set. This set consisted of 60 cards and included sports such as boxing, tennis, basketball, among others. There were also signed versions of some of these cards available from Classic via the QVC, the most sought after being Muhammad Ali.
The signed version of this card has a different back than the standard ‘base’ card. The back of the unsigned version had the typical trading card back with a photo of Ali and career Bio, while the signed card has a plain white back with a congratulations note.
There are three versions of this signed card that I am aware of:
1 - Basic signed version, unnumbered.
2 - Basic signed version, hand numbered to 2,500.
3 - A ‘1964 KO’ version hand numbered to 250. The ‘1964 KO’ appears not to be in Ali’s hand.
Other notes on this card
Every certified card I have seen has been signed at the bottom of the card in the white area.
- The card numbered to 2500 is hand numbered, usually in the top left corner on the front of the card.
- The '1964 KO' version is hand numbered on the back of the card.
- I have seen certified cards signed in blue and black felt tip marker.
- These cards are prone to fading due to the surface gloss of the cardstock.
- In recent years I have seen many of these cards for sale (unnumbered and different numerations), in my opinion, these are not authentic. These cards do have the white back of authentic signed cards.